Finding What You Need in Germany’s Discount Drugstores

Posted in: Berlin Shopping

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Soy Milk DM Shelves
Drugstores in Berlin, such as "dm," stock their shelves with soy milk and other special dietary products. Photo: Iwan Gabovitch.

Toothpaste or body lotion confiscated at airport security? Blisters the size of quarters from hiking around town in new sandals? Forgot to pack sunscreen or feminine hygiene products? No worries—Germany’s discount drugstore chains have this and much more covered.

Ask for the nearest “Rossmann” or “dm” (day-em) store. In Germany, there’s one in practically every neighborhood and almost certainly every train station, from Berlin to Munich.

What you’ll find

The palette of products runs the gamut of typical drugstore suspects: personal hygiene from top to bottom (soaps, toothpastes, lotions, razors, cosmetics, cotton balls, detergents), household products, organic foods, snacks, beverages and babycare items (such as food, pacifiers, and diapers) among others.

There will be plenty of items that are useful to a budget traveler, but perhaps overlooked during packing:

• Basic flip flops for beach, communal shower, or hotel room for just €1!
• Emergency necessities—such as earplugs, headphones, band-aids, batteries, tissues, film, hosiery, condoms, spare underwear or even superglue—at reasonable prices.
• Sponges and soap for hand-washing dishes and corkscrews or resealable lunch bags for self-caterers.
• In case you’ve been invited to dinner, a selection of wines and chocolates as well as gift bags are available.

These stores also generally offer instant photo services. Print your new-found friends a quick souvenir directly from your camera’s memory card!

These chains are a boon to people with dietary restrictions, with a wide variety of organic alternative milks, as well as clearly-marked gluten-free foods and snacks. Lactaid-type tablets are sold as well. This is also the easiest place to pick up distilled water for medical equipment.

What you won’t find

Unlike the U.S., Germany does not sell over-the-counter medications outside of pharmacies. So if you need a basic pain reliever, suppository or cough syrup with active ingredients, you’ll still have to head to an actual Apotheke. Pharmacies, too, are located in nearly every neighborhood, but not in combination with such drugstores (familiar and convenient as that may be).

About the author

Hilary Bown

An academic by training, a writer by day, and a Cheapo by heritage, Hilary Bown's meagre means and insatiable travel appetite have helped her sharpen her "no-budget travel" skills across the European continent over the past decade. At home in Berlin or on an adventure abroad, you'll find her in sandals, riding the bus, reading novels while walking, drinking the local wine, writing out postcards with a felt-tip pen, and browsing the shelves of the supermarket and hardware store. Find her unique blend of travel adventure and tested advice at Less Than a Shoestring.

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